To Kanto, and Beyond!
It’s been a relatively non-stop ride of interest and activity since we started business. While we have light-years to go, the trajectory so far is promising, not just because business is moving from Kanto to beyond, but because we see — through our business activities and those of others — the willingness of people to explore new opportunities in regions that were heretofore overlooked for the glamour of the city.
So what have we discovered so far? A decent amount, though let’s keep it at the anecdotal level for the time being.
Location, Location, Location
Guess what? Location matters. And when you’re by and large dealing with those coming from Tokyo, it’s not hard to imagine that location is the Kanto region 90% of the time. This is, indeed, the case, though we have had some surprises here and there.
To give you a visual idea of what – and where – we’ve been dealing with, check out the below.
We don’t have nearly enough data collected on clients’ propensities to produce anything that is statistically relevant, so any analysis is mere speculation, but there are a few patterns that we’ve noticed which we’re keeping our eyes on.
First of all is that interest is quite concentrated in Kanto. This isn’t very surprising, as the vast majority of our clients are people with their roots in Tokyo.
This category is relatively flexible, looking for either
- A new home out of the city that is still reasonably close to major hubs
- A weekend getaway to be used at the cleint’s leisure
The first of those has further interest in alternative education as well as a desire for greater “commune with nature.” Unsurprisingly, this also includes families and couples in the process of family planning.
The second is more curious about outdoors experiences such as rock climbing, surfing, hiking, and skiing, and the general prospect of relaxing on a porch after a hard week’s work. Somewhat unsurprisingly, you would be correct in guessing that this 2nd type is overwhelmingly single men.
Most of Shikoku and Fukuoka also come up though considerably less frequently than the Kanto area, and for different reasons.
Shikoku-area clients are 100% those looking to lean considerably further into the “commune with nature” motivation that also inspires some clients interested in Kanto. Forest bathing and organic farming almost always pop up here, as does express concern for tsunami.
Similarly, Fukuoka is 100% about IT startups and job opportunities that lie there.
The big surprise here is that our clients have yet to express any interest whatsoever in the Kansai region. There could be any number of reasons for this which we’d be mistaken in authoritatively identifying, though we suspect that the allure of Kanto is due to Tokyo’s gravitational pull.
Less surprisingly is the absence of Tohoku or Hokkaido inquiries, but historically speaking these have always been hard sells. Given our ties to Iwate in Tohoku, let it be said that we hope to see this change in the future, however understand that its not wise to put the cart before the horse.
Kanto reigns supreme amongst our target market of Tokyoites looking to escape the city. Amongst our clients, interest lies exclusively to the West of Tokyo, though we are very much aware of those looking around the East side. For example, Southern Chiba and Central Tochigi frequently come up in conversation.
Connectivity is a frequent topic of discussion as most clients are in a position to work remotely for a large percent of their duties, but are conversely looking to also quickly disconnect and get their hands dirty on projects or adventures.
That we have little traction in the Kansai region is not surprising, again considering our focus on Tokyo-area residents; Fukuoka is a bit far, but given it’s prominence as an IT hub and that we deal with a good number of people in the IT sector, is not too surprising; Shikoku is, however, a bit of a curve-ball as it is much easier to go considerably further off-the-grid there than Kanto and we weren’t expecting people to want to go that far down the rabbit hole so quickly. We’ll have to dig into that deeper over the coming months.
Boiled down, our clients (which are not universally representative) are interested in exurban and rural locations with easy access to Tokyo but which are far enough out to afford additional experiences on top of those available in the metro area. We call this convenient inaka, and expect it to be a big part of the initial wave of those looking to expand their horizons in Japan’s countryside.